Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, has become the first person to be given the Covid-19 vaccine.
As the mass vaccination programme begins to roll out across the UK, this is what you need to know about when you can expect to receive the vaccine.
When will I get the vaccine?
The vaccine will be distributed to people using a priority list that has been devised by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Some of the highest priority people include residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, people aged 80 years and over, and frontline health and social care workers.
Chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, has said that the majority of people over 80 will be waiting until 2021 to receive the vaccine.
Talking to the Press Association, Hopson said, “I don’t think people should expect anything over the next few days because the reality is, as I said, that for the vast, vast majority of people this will be done in January, February, March.
“And the one thing that we don’t want people to get anxious about or concerned about is ‘Where’s my letter?’ in December.
“People really shouldn’t worry if they’re over 80 and they haven’t had a letter.
“I’m sure there will be communications over the next few weeks that will tell people how quickly we are getting through the over 80s, and there will be plenty of communications to say, at the right point, if you haven’t had a letter than you should talk to your GP, but we are many weeks away from that.”
Hopson emphasised that those who haven’t heard anything about receiving the vaccine should “hang fire” and not become concerned.
“We haven’t forgotten you, and we’ll certainly tell you at the point at which you need to start worrying if you haven’t been contacted, but that will be many, many weeks away,” he said.
How are vaccine appointments arranged?
Hopson explained that NHS staff are identifying people within the key target groups and lists. Their details will be passed on to appointment bookers, who will then make the phone calls to arrange said appointment.
He said that some hospitals are focusing on people who are due to come in for an outpatient appointment, or patients who are currently receiving care in hospital. Hopson also said that hospitals are communicating with care homes which have been asked to provide lists of their workers.
When a person arrives at their appointment, they will be registered and prescribed the vaccine.
A computer system will issue an email or letter to that patient and their GP confirming that they have had the first dose of the vaccine, and arranging a follow up date for three weeks later, when they will receive the second dose.
Vaccination priority list
The JCVI advises that the first priorities for the Covid-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of mortality, and the maintenance of the health and social care systems.
“As the risk of mortality from Covid-19 increases with age, prioritisation is primarily based on age,” the government states.
The priority list for the vaccine is as follows:
- Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- All those 80 years of age and over, and frontline health and social care workers
- All those 75 years of age and over
- All those 70 years of age and over, and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
- All those 65 years of age and over
- All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
- All those 60 years of age and over
- All those 55 years of age and over
- All those 50 years o age and over
“It is estimated that taken together, these groups represent around 99 per cent of preventable mortality from Covid-19,” the government says.
How many doses of the vaccine are available?
The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which will be enough to vaccinate 20 million people, as recipients need to have two doses of the vaccine.
There are 800,000 doses in the first delivery, meaning that 400,000 people will be vaccinated initially.